Finding a recipe for success
New chef, new restaurant set for grand re-opening
THE beautiful chalet is nestled into bushland.
It’s a striking building with a restaurant which has been dormant for a period – until now.
Girraween Inn has a new lease on life and is set to open The Spotted Quoll restaurant in nine days.
A chef with experience and an owner with a vision – between Aaron Clews and Apolonia Behan, the pair feel they’ve got a recipe for success.
“I have been a chef for the past six years,” The Spotted Quoll head chef Aaron Clews said. “I have a background in butchery and a very strong passion for local and foraged ingredients.
“I completed my apprenticeship in Newcastle and worked at several fine dining restaurants during that time.
“I’m from a small town on the mid-north coast called Macksville.
“I moved to Stanthorpe in May last year after having a short holiday here to visit some family.
“I decided I wanted to make the move permanent and continue my career on the Granite Belt.
“There are so many people on the Granite Belt that have such a passion for food,” he said. “We’ve got chefs, bakers, butchers, cheese-makers, winemakers, farmers and growers of a ton of beautiful produce.
“That’s why I chose to come here and I intend to be here for several years.
“We will be kicking off here at the Girraween Inn on Saturday, February 24 and be open for dinner Tuesday through to Saturdays.
“I want to change the menu seasonally and, where and when possible, to work with producers and mother nature.
“The main thing for me is to use as much local produce as possible and cook within the region,” Aaron said.
For Inn owner Apolonia, it’s about continuing a dream that started decades ago.
“I lived through the Second World War (in the Netherlands),” Mrs Behan said.
“... in a nutshell, I nearly starved to death.
“My parents then migrated to Australia.
“My father was sought, he was a chef – a European, French trained chef so he came out here and worked.
“Because I experienced hunger, I saw that you don’t stay in the city... but in the country it was different.
“It was always in my head that in the end of my life that I’m going to live in the country.
“So my husband went out just walking one day with the two children and he came back and said ‘I think I saw a piece of property that you’d like’.
“I came here on the day, saw it, liked it and purchased it within an hour. This was about 28 years ago.
“It was going to be a house but my husband said, ‘you come from a background with your father being a chef, you can cook, why don’t we build an inn’. “That’s how it came to be.” They closed their previous restaurant and, following a hiatus, are now back in business.
“We really needed staff that believed in themselves, could see a long term here,” Apolonia said.
“Now we’ve got Aaron, and his lovely partner
Shelly, and here we are.”
TAKING CHARGE: New head chef at Girraween Inn's The Spotted Quoll restaurant Aaron Clews.